The Awesome Leader Blog

I write about anything that can help leaders gain a snappy, specific set of skills for managing up and managing teams.

You Made it Through 2020--Here's Your Ribbon

leadership management Dec 18, 2020


You Participated in 2020. Congratulations.

So, it's Friday, December 18, and the best thing I can say to all of you today is:
  1. Thanks for being here. For reading what I write and choosing to learn to be a better leader, and
  2. I'm happy to award this "Participated" ribbon to you!

I've had this ribbon around my office for a few years. I got it the same day I bought the demerit badge for whining (see below and BTW you can buy these badges here. I think I have earned the "caffeine addict", "chocoholic", "martini", "pizza", "I survived", and "overloaded" badges this year--perhaps several more).

This ribbon is a marker you can use to recognize the confusion, agony, waiting, refreshing your phone, voting, masking up, arguing, homeschooling, washing hands, ordering online, Zoom calls, and sanitizing you did this year. Congratulations!

You made it through 2020.

I really hope your 2020 was more than just making it, yet if you just made it through, that's fine. You were here. You...

No Lazy Leaders, No Team Building, and Less Weird Small Talk

leadership Dec 03, 2020

The Year is Almost Over. It's Easy to Be Lazy as a Leader.

I find it very tempting to look at the date--December 3--and just wish January 1, 2021 were here. Wish that this year was over. Refund, please. Or, do-over, please. 

In 2021 we will still be wearing masks.

In 2021 there will still be a pandemic.

In 2021 there will still be uncertainty for many people: job, home, food, paycheck, money, safety, health, you name it . . . 

In 2021 there will be still a lot of the same, and so, it's tempting to sit back and let 2021 arrive. 

I think that's lazy. I think that's a lazy move for all leaders.
So, I invite you to join me for a webinar on December 9. An anti-lazy leader webinar. 

On December 9 at 9 am PT/12 pm ET/5 pm GMT, join me for a webinar titled, Plan Your 2021 Leadership (and Have Fun & Stay Sane at the Same Time).

Here are details:

  • You'll need a leadership planner, and I have you covered. Download my...

It's Almost Over (This Year, I Mean ;) )

Uncategorized Nov 13, 2020
In this newsletter, I share some thoughts on the beauty of honest conversations, and I also invite you to join my November 18, 2020 webinar, hosted by

First, The Beauty of an Honest Conversation & Why I'm Not the Jacka** Whisperer

I love the truth. I'm a little obsessed with it. And I think you should be, too.

I love honesty. And I love to share my thoughts . . . and yesterday, someone yelled at me about it. She was really angry I speaking the truth.

I wasn't always like this. I spent most of my school life (little kid through graduate school) allowing others to speak unless I was told I needed to talk or that I would be rewarded (better grade, more points, etc.) if I started speaking. And, then, honestly (ahh, I can't even keep the word out of this paragraph!), I only shared what others wanted to hear.

As an executive coach, I often share what people say they want to hear: the truth.

They say, "Just tell me" or "I'm ready" or "What do you think?" and I start...

It's Not About Perfection

management Oct 19, 2020

Anyone remember this game?

A few years ago, my mom was going through my "things" (what she calls stuff in my childhood bedroom), and she brought me a bag of junk (what I call that stuff). And in that bag was the game of Perfection.

I have it in my office now. I just played it earlier this week (literally and symbolically).

I reminded myself how much I despise the game yet secretly love the name and love the ambition of perfection.

The race against the clicking clock to get all those pieces in the right places before the whole thing goes "POP!"

Many days I feel as if I’m going to pop.

Is it because I’m racing towards perfection? I don’t so think, but I do know I'm trying to put lots of pieces into tiny holes all over, and I feel rushed and confused.

The holes are (now) smaller, they look and feel strange, and they are harder to find. And the time is loud, clicking by. It's like a nightmare inspired by the game of Perfection . . . POP.

And some days, I do it. I pop.

Alone in...


A Webinar with Shellye Archambeau

Uncategorized Oct 08, 2020
Join Me for a Webinar with Shellye Archambeau, Author of Unapologetically Ambitious.
Hello everyone,

Today I'm reaching out with a short but important note: an invitation to join me for a special webinar on October 20 at 8 am PT with Shellye Archambeau, Fortune 500 board member, former CEO of MetricStream, advisor, and author.

Shellye is the author of Unapologetically Ambitious, which was just released this week.

In her book, Shellye draws on her compelling story of over 30 years of experience in technology. She was high tech's first African American CEO, and she currently serves on the boards of Verizon, Nordstrom, Roper Technologies, and okta.

Shellye is also a Forbes contributor and the protagonist of the Harvard Business School Case Study: Becoming a CEO. (OK, featured in an HBR case study?! Wow, right?)

I hope you'll join us on October 20 at 8 am PT as we talk with Shellye about:

  • Managing imposter...

Join Me For a Webinar with Shelley Osborne

Uncategorized Sep 22, 2020

Join Me for a Webinar with Shelley Osborne, VP of Learning at Udemy & Author of The Upskilling Imperative

Hello everyone,

First, an invitation to join me for a special webinar onSeptember 29 at 8 am PT with Shelley Osborne, VP of Learning at Udemy.

Shelley is the author of The Upskilling Imperative, and she'll share ideas about how to provide continuous learning for your team members, your company, and you.

I'm a big Udemy fan. I have two workshops on the Udemy for Business platform, one on EQ and another on Goal Setting. In 18 months, I've helped 26,000 students develop their EQ and plan SMART goals.

The message is clear: people want to learn online and do it on their time.

In this webinar on September 29, Shelley will discuss how to turn feedback into fuel, how to think like a marketer, how to put learning into the flow of work, and more.

Webinar participants will receive a self-evaluation (sent the day before) to pinpoint where they and their...


I Make the Rules

leadership Sep 08, 2020
Make More Rules

I’ve always prided myself as a rule follower. Somewhat to the extreme.

I have trouble crossing the street when the walk sign is off. Even if there are no cars around.

Here’s my thinking. The idea of breaking a rule that’s been put in place to protect me, to keep traffic flowing (pre-COVID-19 you had places to be on time, right?), and—big-picture thinking—to help us all get along, well, that would be wrong.

On the sidewalk, I was that person, standing as others looked both ways (or not) and kept moving to their designations. I was waiting for the light to change. Waiting for it to be clear. Waiting for permission.

I see obeying the crosswalk as a rule that helps me. It’s a rule that works for me. It makes me feel safe, it makes me feel in control of my environment.

As a human, you don’t have to follow my rule.

But, as a leader, I think you need more rules.

You need rules to help you consider what work you do...

Here is Your Awesome Leader Coloring Book

leadership Aug 24, 2020

Back to School: No Supplies Needed

August feels different this year. I know you get that.

Back to school doesn't feel or look like back to school. No one is finishing up a vacation, few people are dropping college freshman off, and in California, we are already staying indoors, evading smoke, as wildfires rage around us.

I haven't even been to a Target this month, and usually I'm there at least once in August with my kids, as we check off the school supply list. The list dwindles as they age, and yet it gets more complicated. Why teachers love college-ruled composition notebooks and they are in short supply confounds me. Digging through the large cardboard display box of composition books, searching, searching, and only finding wide-ruled ones. Ahhh.

For me, the best part of going back to school was a new box of crayons, paired with a fresh notebook. I was prepared to color. Not sure what I would be coloring, but I was ready to color with the...

Managing Negativity: What to Do with the Complainer

leadership management Jul 30, 2020

[Pandemic aside, there is a complainer on almost every team: the person who has a lot to say and most of it is negative. For this blog, I’m not focusing on how to tackle the constant grumbler during COVID-19 times, as I don’t think we have to treat the complainer differently during a pandemic and WFH scenario. Whether we’re wearing masks or not, WFH or not, the complainer needs to change. ]

As a manager, a huge part of your job is to work with all kinds of people, with all kinds of temperaments. An awesome manager is able to recognize and use the strengths of every employee, finding a way to make the varying skills and personalities that make up their teamwork in harmony. It feels right. It sounds right. It’s your favorite playlist and the sound and atmosphere are perfect. 

But imagine when you’re listening to someone learning to play the violin. It’s jarring, and it grates on you. And you might be next door or in a room a bit away, and...


What's in Your Emotional Baggage?

eq Jul 24, 2020
What’s in Your Pandemic Emotional Baggage?

Usually about this time of the year I’m packing or unpacking. Packing to leave for vacation or unpacking once I arrive somewhere.

Right now, I’m doing neither. I’m still dealing with baggage, though. My emotional baggage.

Several years ago, I bought this purse at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
For those of you who don’t know me personally, yes, I did go through the museum before hitting the gift shop. The list of must-see art there is intimidating to get through. My favorites include Still Life with Asparagus (White asparagus! Very exotic.) and this Rembrandt self-portrait, titled, of course, Self-portrait. He is rocking a pandemic hairstyle.

Anyway, what a cool bag. An actual emotional baggage purse.

I was in Amsterdam to facilitate EQ (Emotional Intelligence) workshops for a client, so I discovered a great prop that wouldn’t take up space in my luggage...

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